Image showing immigration counters at Auckland Airport

How New Zealand protects its borders without security theatre

Note from the author: Normally the following would be one of my German language articles belonging to the “Datenschutz” (privacy) series, however it gives a contrary view for those people who argue the vast, ill-founded collection of all travellers’ personal information, including biometrics, makes a country safer – and presents NZ as good example how to do it differently and achieve the same, if not even better results.

While living in a foreign country long term, it always pays to keep up to date with immigration legislation and practices. This may be easy or rather difficult, depending on how developed a country’s immigration department, their systems and their resources are. I’m in luck, since Immigration New Zealand (INZ) maintains an excellent website with a dedicated news section, so every expat/migrant can immediately check what’s going on.

Along this, they also publish media reports related to immigration matters – and this where I stumbled upon “Year at the Border”, an apparently annually published paper talking about immigration statistics and the work of INZ throughout the year. I did take some time to read most of it and as it turns out, it contains very interesting information about how the country handles incoming passengers.

Read on if you want to find out how NZ manages to keep their borders safe without – this is the point I want to make – the security theatre that one has to endure in the US, Canada, Australia, other developed nations and, unfortunately in the near future, Europe. Continue reading

Image of a group of friends

Von der Schwierigkeit, Kiwis als Freunde zu gewinnen

Es handelt sich um einen ziemlich starken Kontrast. Wenn wir uns auf eine Gegebenheit in Neuseeland konzentrieren, von welcher zuhause in Mitteleuropa geschwärmt wird – zumindest wenn wir von Deutschen, aber sicherlich auch von einigen anderen unserer Nachbarn sprechen –, dann ist das vermutlich nicht unbedingt die spektakuläre Landschaft, sondern die Freundlichkeit der Kiwis.

Man kommt sofort ins Gespräch, wird eingeladen zum angeln, essen, jagen oder was auch immer vor Ort möglich ist, und kriegt auch sofort Hilfe angeboten, wenn etwas nicht in Ordnung ist. Eigentlich sweet as, oder?

Nun ja: Solange es bei dieser oberflächlichen Bekanntschaft bleibt, ist alles knorke. Darüber hinaus kann es aber schwierig sein, wie meine Erfahrung zeigt. Continue reading

Image of fingerprint scanner

Datenschutz in Neuseeland: Alltag

Den Neuseeländern wird nachgesagt, dass sie alles etwas lockerer angehen – in der Regel ist dem so, unabhängig davon, ob es sich um das eigene, private oder professionelle, berufliche Leben handelt. Diese Eigenheit, verbunden mit genereller Offenheit für neue Technologien und dem „Gehorsam“, den großen angelsächsischen Brüdern England (bzw. UK) und den Vereinigten Staaten hin und wieder nachzueifern, bringen eine interessante Dynamik in das Thema Datenschutz: Während es an wenigen Fronten dramatisch aussieht, ist es überwiegend wunderbar einfach, den Datensammlern zu entgehen; nicht zuletzt, weil davon eher wenige in Neuseeland ansässig sind. In diesem Beitrag möchte ein buntes Allerlei zu dem Thema aus dem Alltag in Neuseeland zusammenfassen – auch für Leute spannend, den Datenschutz nicht am Herzen liegt, aber an Eigenheiten des Lebens in Aotearoa interessiert sind! Continue reading

Image of the Mackinnon Pass Ascend

Out there, doing “the finest walk in the world”: Milford Track

As someone who calls hiking (NZ English: “tramping”, “New” English: “trekking”) a passion, I absolutely wanted to go to the majestic Fiordland in New Zealand’s South West and walk the Milford Track, supposedly one of the world’s finest tracks. The problem: You have to book it about one year in advance, no good if you haven’t got a clue where you will be in one month’s time. After all however, I got very lucky and booked the huts as well as transport about five days before the planned start. Read on if you love mountains with waterfalls coming down, rainforests in between and anything related to a stunning, rugged and pure natural landscape! Continue reading

Photo of Chinese Beef Fried Noodles

Essen gehen in Neuseeland

Zugegeben, das klingt zunächst banal – das Folgende könnte jedoch für den ein oder anderen Anhänger der Gaumenfreuden von Interesse sein. Zunächst: Ja, man kann in Neuseeland gut und günstig (leider oft nicht gleichzeitig) essen gehen, warum auch nicht. Sich ein paar Details im Vergleich mit Europa bzw. Deutschland anzuschauen, hilft jedoch möglicherweise, Frustration, Verwunderung und falsche Erwartungen auf ein Minimum zu reduzieren. Continue reading

Picture of one of the forest's waterfalls

Hidden gems: Tawarau Forest

Sometimes one doesn’t have to venture far off the beaten path to find a real gem – this is especially true in New Zealand, no matter if North Island or South Island. “The beaten path” I will start this post with today are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, which are about one hour drive from Hamilton, that rather soulless city in the Northwest of the Waikato.

Being on most NZ tourist itineraries, virtually everybody has done “blackwater rafting” or a related activity with one of the many tour operators that own licenses to go into the caves. Yes, I’ve done it too, and don’t get me wrong: It’s a cool activity and often a highlight for many of Aotearoa’s visitors. Very few of these tourists though wonder where the road that continues past the big visitor centre leads to: Te Anga Road can bring you all the way to the coast, and it’s a really nice drive scenery-wise, albeit very windy and narrow, like so many of NZ’s backcountry roads. It also allows you to reach the destination I present to you today: The beautiful Tawarau Forest. Continue reading

On the way through NZ, part 14: Queenstown

It’s time to have a look at one of THE destinations in New Zealand: Magical, annoying, stunning, crowded and love-hated Queenstown (which I will abbreviate as QT).

In the past, this wasn’t more than a sleepy settlement in the middle of nowhere and with the exception of a few years of gold mining, QT never got much attention by people until the middle of the 20th century. 50 years later it’s a madhouse and labels itself “adventure capital of the world”, which might very well be true given the myriad of activities it offers…let’s get into it. Continue reading

A woman uses a NZ$20 note

Datenschutz in Neuseeland: Bezahlen

Ja, das liebe Geld. Nach wie vor dreht sich alles darum, heute noch viel mehr als in Vergangenheit. Heutzutage sind viele Zahlungsmethoden untrennbar mit dem Preisgeben der Identität verbunden – im Internet so gut wie immer, aber auch im alltäglichen Leben, sobald man sich vom Bargeld entfernt.

Auch wenn Finanzwesen und -wirtschaft nicht zu meinen Interessen zählen, finde ich persönlich so etwas immer recht spannend: Womit zahlt die Bevölkerung eines Landes ihre Güter und Dienstleistungen, und welche Möglichkeiten gibt es überhaupt? Während wir Deutschen unser Bargeld lieben, wird in bspw. Kenia überwiegend mit dem Handy bezahlt: Karten und Bares werden gar nicht bzw. selten verwendet.

Und in good old New Zealand? Verträgt es sich mit dem Schützen der eigenen Daten? Continue reading

The start of the Denniston incline.

On the way through NZ, part 13: Denniston and Oparara Basin

There are certainly countless amazing regions throughout NZ, depending on what you’re looking for. Except for Eastern Canterbury, I was keen to see each area of the South Island, and one of the most intriguing destinations I’ve read about prior to travelling there was the West Coast.

West Coast, you ask? No, not the one known for LA and San Francisco, but the one where rain is the dominant form of weather throughout the year. Nevertheless people go there all the time, often as part of a round trip, either going down this route, moving east in Southland and going back up, usually to Christchurch, or the other way round. Back to the rain: This area sees everything from approx. 3200 mm up to figures exceeding 6000 mm of water annually, which is W-E-T (yet I didn’t make one of the various lists online on the wettest places on Earth). Don’t let that put you off, as there are some real gems to be found here (actual and non-physical ones!); I haven’t seen half as much as I want to see but at least have been to an old mining post called Denniston as well as the Oparara Basin, a fascinating limestone basin on the edge of Kahurangi National Park – come have a look! Continue reading

Hidden gems: Mount Tarawera

Volcanoes. There’s certainly no lack of them in New Zealand, especially in what’s called the Taupo Volcanic Zone: A vast area which encompasses most of the Bay of Plenty and serves as my playground on many weekends for quite a while now. Fortunately for me and many Kiwis, most of these volcanoes are dormant, leaving mountains with interesting shapes, landscapes and histories behind (although it would be amazing to climb an active one – yes, I know it’s nuts, but adventure is the spice of life!). A few weeks ago I made my way up to Mount Tarawera, semi-famous for destroying the Pink and White Terraces in the 19th century and giving the name to the eponymous waterfalls and lake in the area. Calling the view from the summit spectacular is almost an understatement! Continue reading